Coronavirus: WhatsApp helpline now available in five official SA languages

The national Department of Health's novel coronavirus (Covid-19) WhatsApp helpline is now available in five of South Africa's official languages – English, Sotho, Zulu, Xhosa and Afrikaans.

Initially, the service was only able to respond to English queries, but this changed on Saturday when updates were made to accommodate the additional languages so that it is available in five of the country's most-spoken languages.

READ | THAT WhatsApp voicenote wasn't meant to be shared - it was from a worried daughter to her mother

This is part of the department's efforts to make critical information about the novel coronavirus outbreak available in various languages.

Anyone in South Africa can join the Covid-19 Connect conversation by sending the word "Hi" to +27 600 123 456 on WhatsApp.

South Africa is on Day 3 of a 21-day lockdown, aimed at curbing the spread of the virus, which first emerged in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.

The lockdown comes a week after President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a national state of disaster in terms of the Disaster Management Act.

READ | Coronavirus: 1.5 million people use Covid-19 WhatsApp helpline in under a week

On Saturday, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize announced that the number of positive cases in South Africa had climbed to 1 187 – an increase of 17 compared to the figure given on Friday.

Of these, 533 are in Gauteng, 271 in the Western Cape and 156 in KwaZulu-Natal, according to figures available at the time of publication.

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